Dan – End of February Update

We’re now a few months in to this blogs progress, It’s the end of February and I’m sure like a lot of you out there I am absolutely sick of setting off out of my front door to scenes like those on the thumbnail for this post.  So I think it’s time to take stock of where I am and to do some planning for the coming months.

So let’s start with the basics.  Around work and daily life I’m currently only managing 2 hours a week in the saddle on an average, dependent on shift patterns and the like.  In my day job the winter period is the busiest of the year, which is one of the reasons why I’m not observing a traditional “base period”.  It just wouldn’t work.  That said, I do need more hours in the saddle so I’ll be aiming to do some work to increase that average volume in the coming weeks and months. I will also be adding some gym work to my routine for the Spring, to work on some specific strength and stamina areas as well as to mix my cardio training up.

Volume aside, my time on the bike over the winter has felt much more productive than in past years, and I’m coming in to March feeling much more comfortable on the bike and feeling as though I’m on the way to some decent form.  In the next fortnight I’ll be re-doing my maximum heart rate test to re-adjust my HR zones, as well as doing a winter run of the local 10mile TT route to get an idea of where I am.

The plan from now until Easter, 2 months away is to slightly alter the focus on my rides, and to begin incorporating some drills.  I started this on my last ride out and will go in to more detail in my next post.  But aiming towards Crit racing as I am, I have been reviewing the parts of my riding that could be considered “limiters” or race specific weaknesses.

Riding on my own, as I do for the majority of my riding it is very easy to sit at a comfortable pace, or even an uncomfortable one consistently throughout the bulk of the ride without variation.  In a bunch, competitive scenario and even more so on a tight, technical track that variation becomes a key skill that I need to develop.  Not just a sprint finish, but the ability to vary my pace and cadence throughout a ride.

I’ll also be looking to work on my sprints and explosive power, not that I’ll be expecting to be fighting for wins initially, but it’s definitely something that I need to work on more.

Aside from the fitness and strength side of training I know there are some skill based bit that I need to work on.  Coming from an off-road background I’m comfortable with my solo bike handing ability, and very comfortable descending at speed.  However, I’m hoping to head down to Hemel Hempstead Cycling club and start getting involved with the club runs to get used to riding in a group as bunch riding is something  that I have never done before.

I’ll also be doing some drill work to focus on pedalling technique to help achieve maximum efficiency with what will still be, compared to some, relatively little saddle time in the coming months.

My next post will include links to some drill suggestions.  Some of which I’ll be using alongside my fitness testing, and some that are simply options for those of you who want to try something new to improve a specific skill or ability.

I’m using a lot of ideas and principles set out by Joe Friel in “The Cyclist’s Training Bible” and really would recommend it as an addition to any cyclists book collection.  To make full use of his work a heart rate monitor is vital and a power meter advisable, but there is plenty to get out of it if, like me, you haven’t yet invested in working with power.